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By Nathalie Bufton, Head of Independent Living Skills at NCW

Blog published 19th November 2017 | Category: Supporting VI Students

At the start of the year, the NCW Independent Living Skills Department has a skills focus week, where students are individually set a challenge to try to master a skill that has previously evaded them.

A recurring skill deficit which crops up every year is that tricky task of tying shoelaces. Without exception, this is a challenge for any child because it demands fine motor skills. Nowadays, young people can get by for many years without learning this task because there is such a wide range of shoes available with alternative fastenings. Most teaching resorts to the traditional the ‘Bunny’ technique (round the tree and into the hole) but at NCW we have developed a different technique which is easier to manage and understand for a child who is visually impaired. Some of our learners don’t have a concept of what a bunny looks like, let alone how it might go around the tree and into the hole!

The NCW Gate Method uses the following steps:

  • Step One: Place the shoe so the toe is pointing away, as it would be if on the foot
  • Step Two: Take a lace in each hand
  • Step Three: Cross over the lace
  • Step Four: Pinch together in one hand
  • Step Five: If right handed: Take the right hand lace and tuck it under the left hand lace, feeling under from toe to heel and pull down.
  • Step Six:Repeat this action but leaving a finger in the gap to keep a space whilst pulling down. This creates the starting point or the ‘Gate’
  • Step Seven: Whilst holding the loop with the left hand, take the right hand lace and feed it into the hole coming from the toe towards the ankle pushing past the finger
  • Step Eight: Repeat whilst holding with the right hand, take the left hand lace and feed it into the space coming from the ankle towards the toe
  • Step Nine: Take the loops in both hands and pull slowly to tighten

To undo the lace the gate formation needs to be unpicked, rather than pulling the loose ends as with a traditional bow.

We have found this is a superb way to introduce young people to shoelaces and once this method has been mastered, we move on to teaching the traditional method. The euphoria of completing the task independently is a moment of sheer achievement and joy for our students as the frustration has finally been conquered.

We have made a video with Year 11 student Fizzy and Mrs Hood to demonstrate the technique!

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